Virent and Marathon Petroleum partner to fill food pantry’s emergency food lockers for a year

Community News

Madison, Wisconsin, Foundation, Virent
(L to R) Helen Osborn-Senatus, Rhonda Adams, Tony Morton, Zach Leonard, Megan Holler, Bob Rozmiarek, and Ryan Holley in front of the Food NOW lockers that provide food for after-hours immediate needs supported by Virent and MPC.
  • Virent and Marathon Petroleum recently teamed up to present The River Food Pantry in Madison, Wisconsin, with a grant supporting its new emergency food locker program.
  • The pantry, which serves thousands of people annually, recently installed 10 lockers outside its location, providing 24-hour access to those needing food assistance.
  • The grant will not only fill the lockers with food for a full year but will also help the nonprofit with program costs related to staffing and signage.

Shortly after The River Food Pantry in Madison, Wisconsin, installed its new outdoor food lockers, Virent, along with its parent company Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), announced a grant to help fill the lockers with food for a full year.

The grant for $7,000 was presented to The River shortly after the new food locker program, called Food NOW (Nights or Weekends), launched. Two University of Wisconsin students, Akshay Kalra and Samantha Angelina, created the project as part of the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship Program.

“We are so grateful to Akshay, Samantha and the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship Program for helping us provide this highly requested service,” said Rhonda Adams, Executive Director of The River, when the lockers were first announced to the public.

Food NOW was designed to meet a community-identified need for an after-hours food distribution system in Madison.

Zach Leonard, Operations Project Lead, describing all the shelf stable items stocked in each food locker to Megan Holler, Rhona Adams, Monica Wahlberg, Ryan Holley, Tony Morton and Bob Rozmiarek.

“We know that our neighbors facing food insecurity cannot always visit during our distribution hours. By providing a free 24/7 emergency food supply, Food NOW will increase convenience for community members to access enough food to get through the night or weekend until we are open again,” Adams said. “We are very grateful to community partners like Virent and Marathon for supporting Food NOW, while at the same time supporting The River’s overall mission of building a stronger community.”

In addition to filling the emergency lockers for a full year, The River said the grant dollars will also help cover program costs related to staffing and signage.

“We are proud to work with The River, a wonderful organization which continues to seek new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our community,” said Virent’s Bob Rozmiarek, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development. “Virent is also working to build a stronger future through innovation with our renewable chemical and fuels technology.”

As the busiest food pantry in South Central Wisconsin, The River serves over 2,500 people facing food insecurity each week, including adults, seniors, veterans, those experiencing homelessness, and children.

Tony Morton opening a food locker after scanning the QR code that sends him a unique combination passcode to his cell phone that opened one of the lockers.